By Charleen Clarke
I’m a bit of a weird creature. Despite the fact that I’m a motoring journalist, I always prefer to fly long distances instead of driving. Maybe it’s because I spend so much time behind the wheel of a car or truck on a day-to-day basis. However, a recent spell with a Jaguar XE completely changed my sentiments when it comes to road trips …
Recently (when it was still possible to travel; oh, how I long for those days), I visited my family in Melbourne. While the city has brilliant public transport, I decided that I still needed my own wheels. Those wheels turned out to be a Jaguar XE – and so I spent two weeks ensconced in the utmost luxury. With the exception of one or two minor niggles, the car impressed me from the start to end of my trip.
The ultimate in style
The exterior is quite faultless. It is sleek, stylish and quite beautiful. In its latest guise, the XE has a bolder and more assertive look than its predecessor – and I like this. For, while it certainly looks like the luxury car that it is, it also looks dynamic and quite sporty. Upfront, there’s a revised bumper and a wider grille, providing a more planted appearance. The enhanced grille features a new lattice mesh design with a fuller, curvedprofile; a visual cue shared with the incredible all-electric I-Pace (currently my most favourite car).
The rear of the car has also been redesigned and features a new rear bumper and rear valance, which enhances the car’s visual width, giving it a more planted impression. This also aids aerodynamic performance.
My favourite exterior feature is definitely the lights; they rock. Upfront, there are premium LED headlights with signature daytime running lamps. At the back, there are slim LED taillights that were inspired by the F-Type. Yum.
The interior is just as impressive. It is beautiful, decidedly upmarket and populated by more leather than in a herd of cows. A new steering wheel, shared with the I-Pace, features hidden-until-lit graphics and capacitive switches for intuitive, tactile control of key functions.
The latest XE is the smartest and most connected Jag yet. Jaguar’s Touch Pro Duo infotainment system, also shared with I-Pace, is also available for the first time in the XE, delivering instinctive control through a pair of seamlessly integrated high-resolution touchscreens. Wireless device charging and clever Smart Settings technology also make their first appearance in the XE.
I had two minor niggles pertaining to the interior though. Firstly, the climate control system and I just couldn’t become best friends; on typically hot Melbourne days it simply didn’t do the best job. On a positive note though, the XE does boast Cabin Air Ionisation, which removes harmful pathogens, allergens and unpleasant odours from the air. Anything that removes bad stuff from the air right now is a hit with me.
My other grumble was the loading space. The boot space isn’t great; I couldn’t fit two large suitcases into the boot – I had to chuck one on the back seat and (based on the fact that I live in crime-ridden South Africa) that made me apprehensive. Of course, Australia is safe – and so my suitcase never went walkies.
On the other hand, I was mighty impressed with the safety features – which included anything and everything from Dynamic Stability Control to Trailer Stability Assist and six airbags. The XE received the maximum 5-Star rating in Euro NCAP’s tests – so it really is as safe as a car can be.
Good drivetrain, great ride
I was equally delighted with the ride quality and the performance of the powertrain. First, the engine. My XE came equipped with a 2.0-litre petrol engine that delivers 221 kW of power and 400 Nm of torque. It’s fun to play with JaguarDrive Control, which allows you to select from Comfort, Eco, Dynamic, Rain, Ice and Snow Mode. Each mode has its own tailor-made programme which alters different parameters, such as engine and transmission response, steering feel, load management or traction and stability control.
The Adaptive Dynamics system (which is optional, by the way) makes for vastly improved ride comfort and dynamic body control using continuously variable damping technology. The system monitors multiple sensors that analyse vertical wheel positions, vehicle acceleration, steering inputs, as well as throttle and brake pedal activity to adjust the suspension damping settings. This provides a near-perfect balance of comfort, refinement and agility. It’s honestly hard to find a more comfortable vehicle for day-to-day travelling; the ride is utterly exemplary.
At the end of my trip to Melbourne, I planned to visit Sydney. While scenic (if you take the coastal road) it’s still one hell of a long drive, so I booked a flight. Big mistake! Returning the XE I gave myself one mighty slap. I realised that I’d been a complete idiot. I’d enjoyed my spell in the Jaguar so much – I really wasn’t ready to say goodbye. The prospect of a road trip to Sydney was a really enticing proposition. To my amazement, I discovered that the XE had, in fact, turned me off flying!
- The Jaguar XE costs from R783 400 (about €41 000) in South Africa.